McDonald's to phase out plastic straws in UK, Ireland

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McDonald's to phase out plastic straws in UK, Ireland

McDonald's reportedly uses some 1.8 million plastic straws a day in the United Kingdom alone, making the company the single biggest culprit.

"The straw stays in our environment without decomposing for hundreds of years", said Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn), one of the bill's sponsors.

"You asked us to ditch plastic straws", a McDonald's U.K. Facebook post reads.

McDonald's is to remove all plastic straws from its restaurants by 2019, with a transition to paper alternatives due to begin in September. "We hope this work will support industrywide change and bring sustainable solutions to scale", she added. The company will also start testing the options to plastic straws at the selected location in the United States this year. A 2015 YouTube video of a turtle whose head was impaled by a plastic straw has been watched more than 27m times.

Because plastic straws are tiny and don't easily biodegrade, they can commonly slip through the cracks of a city's waste-recycling process, clogging ponds, rivers, and oceans.

"Later this year, McDonald's will begin testing alternatives in select restaurants in the U.S., France, Sweden, Norway and Australia".

It's a seemingly small, but environmentally significant move.

Managing Director Lorenzo Angelucci said: "I am delighted that McDonald's has taken this visionary step towards reducing the environmental impact of the food industry". In 2012, Miami Beach banned hotels from serving straws, because they often ended up on the sand and in the water, threatening marine life.

The restaurant chain uses 1.8 million straws a day in the UK. A report by the World Economic Forum has estimated that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. The Northern Irish factory of the Finnish packaging company Huhtamaki will also supply McDonald's but is understood to not yet have paper straw production capabilities.

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